Category Archives: Life

Up Chunk

Living with roommates has it’s advantages and disadvantages, and these pros and cons must be considered carefully before you enter into such a living situation.  Luckily for you, the reader, I have had many different roomies over the years.  Using this experience, I’ve come up with a little list of some positives and negatives for you to weigh to help you make the right decision:

  • Cost of living is greatly reduced by splitting rent/bills…
  • But your level of stress is greatly increased because your roommate never has his portion on time and regularly needs you to cover his ass,  and he knows you will because the lease is only in your name, not his, and he knows you actually care about your credit rating and whether or not you get evicted.
  • You always have someone to hang out with…
  • Like when you bring your date home after dinner to watch a movie and there is your out-of-shape roommate sitting on the couch watching television in nothing but his boxer briefs.  You give him a hint by asking if you can use the TV/DVD player, hoping he’ll retreat to his room, and he responds with “sure, what are we watching?”  No second date.
  • Roommate has a hot sister and/or friends…
  • Not only does he not have a hot sister, his girlfriend is an ugly, loud-mouthed pothead who just walks in whenever she comes over and likes to talk about making pot brownies no matter who is around.
    Or, in another nightmarish scenario, you had previously dated your roommate’s current girlfriend, as he saw no problem in aggressively pursuing her once you had stopped dating.  Hearing them do it is just gross.
  • You have someone to help with chores…
  • Or so you thought.  Not only are you cleaning up after your dogs, but your roommate likes to throw cigarette butts all over the yard – butts you discover while cutting the grass, a chore that he agreed would be his.
  • Roommate has nicer furniture than you…
  • Or, your roommate comes into the arrangement with nothing but an end table full of flea market trinkets.  Out of pity you purchase him a used futon to sleep on, which he quickly ruins by falling asleep on it while watching TV with a huge plate of cherry cheesecake in his lap.  Who knew dessert could make such a sweet pillow!
  • Roommate likes to cook dinner for the house…
  • Maybe he will, or maybe your roommate will  sit around and eat the food you bought, and then play dumb whenever you ask him where your last can of Chef Boyardee is.  And maybe you’ll actually find the can, if you look hard enough – empty, in the trash can in his room.
  • Roommate lets you borrow his cool car…
  • If only he had one (a car, that is).  After totaling his car, he constantly calls you for a ride to or from work.  He knows you’ll do it because you need him to be earning so he can give you $100 of that $350 he owes you for rent on time.
  • Social life enhanced by your roommate’s partying…
  • Your sleep time is depleted when you are suddenly awakened at 5 AM on a Saturday by loud scary music coming from the living room.  Upon investigation, you discover that one of the “Nightmare on Elm Street” movies is playing on the big screen TV with the surround sound cranked to eleven.  Better yet, your still-partying roommate and his loser friends aren’t even watching it; they’re in the hallway participating in a drunken wrestling match which is beginning to border on total gayness.
  • You get a discount at your roommate’s place of employment…
  • Nothing is more satisfying than a half-priced, cold cheeseburger from a fast food place fifteen miles away.
  • Your roommate can let your dogs out when you’re not home…
  • Especially since he just got fired and he’s home all the time, but hey, that would require consideration and a little bit of common sense. After all, they’re your dogs, not his. Besides, he’s probably still be upset because you have dogs (which you had before he moved in), but you won’t let him get a pet snake (you told him no pets before he moved in, and even so, you allowed a pet turtle at one point, which one of your dogs killed because he had left the turtle crawling around the backyard.  Out of guilt, you got him another one, which died a week later because he left it in an aquarium in the back yard and it rained – the turtle drowned).  But wait – then he surprises you.  Any time your dogs make a mess, he lays a paper towel on it.  What a guy!
  • Roommate’s girlfriend has hot friends…
  • Not unless you think 16 and 17-year-olds are hot.  Do you tell your thirty-year-old roommate that he shouldn’t be dating someone ten years younger than he is?  After all, you’re his roommate, not his dad.
    Or you could find yourself in this gem of a situation:  your roommate’s girlfriend DOES have hot friends, and after a night of partying at your house, your roommate is banging one of them in the garage while his girlfriend (the girl you previously dated) is passed out drunk in their bedroom.  Now you’re forced into keeping the secrets of one friend from another, which is always a guaranteed good time.

Now, there is no reason to freak out.  If you are careful during your screening process and don’t jump into a situation too quickly, you should be fine.  I do have just one piece of advice:  don’t room with anyone who goes by the name “Chunk” or with anyone who has a friend who goes by the name “Chunk.”  Over time I’ve discovered that if a majority of a person’s friends go by nicknames, they’re probably not the type of crowd you want to be involved in.

My roommate had such a friend (I still don’t know his real name to this day).  Chunk was a big guy.  We’re talking 6’2″ or 6’3″ and easily pushing 300 pounds.  He was a little too friendly and a little too talkative, and I don’t think his elevator went to the top floor.  He always carried around a huge 52 oz. thermos-type mug filled with water, and he usually showed up with a Taco Bell bag containing enough food to feed {an army/an entire family of Mexicans/my uncle}.  Chunk would come over and disappear into my roommate’s room for long periods of time.  I know my roommate smoked weed and I’m pretty sure Chunk was his supplier.  Knowing that I wasn’t cool with it, roommate kept that part of his life away from me for the most part.  The thing about Chunk was, once he came over, you had to practically kick him out or else he would never leave.  Sometimes he would finish his food and pass out on the couch, and we would have to wake him up and kick him out.  Sometimes I would suddenly find myself alone with him in the living room, suffering through a pointless conversation that he would continually push.  My roommate would be hiding in his room laughing at the situation, and I’d have to go get him to make up an excuse so that Chunk would leave (i.e. we have to go to sleep now or whatever).  I’m just too polite, and he wasn’t my company – I didn’t feel comfortable telling him to leave.  These were all only small annoyances, however – small compared to what happened next.

One night Chunk came over and picked up my roommate.  They were about to go downtown to drink and hit on girls. I had to work at six the next morning (not that I would have ever have hung out with Chunk in public anyway), so I wished them a good time and retired to the couch.  I eventually fell asleep there, which was not unusual.  Around four in the morning, I was half-awakened by the sound of giggling and the rattling of keys.  This went on for several minutes.  It sounded as if they were too intoxicated and uncoodinated to get the key in the door to unlock it, and I remember thinking wow, they’re completely wasted. I drifted back into dreamland.

All of a sudden, I was violently awakened by the full force of someone flopping themselves on top of me.  I couldn’t move, and I could barely breathe.  It was pitch black.  I was laying on my back, and the person on top of me was also laying on his back with his head coming right up to my neck.  It was my roommate, trying to be funny because he was drunk.  Still in a daze from the previous slumber I had just been pulled out of, I began squirming and pushing on his head.  I quickly realized that the person on top of me was not my roommate because one, roommate has a shaved head and I was pushing on a moptop, and two, I was pinned by something very large, something my roommate was not.  That something was Chunk.

I started screaming “W.T.F?” and “get him the f*ck off of me!”  Before I even got that last sentence out I simultaneously noticed two more things:  Chunk was dead weight, making no effort whatsoever to remove himself from my body, and I thought I had just heard some sort of gurgling sound.  This was immediately followed by the feeling of warm, gooey liquid flowing over my neck and shoulders and soaking into the couch cushions below me.  I began screaming, gagging, and pushing all at once… still no sign of Roommate.  Another gurgle, more warm liquid.  Roommate finally noticed my cries I guess because the lights came on and Roommate asked Chunk what he was doing.  I impatiently explained in a pissed off manner as Roommate helped him off of me so that I could get up.  Now alone on the couch and on his stomach so he didn’t choke to death, the appropriately-named Chunk threw up some more.

Unable to raise Chunk on the phone the next day in order to get him to come over and clean his vomit, I spent the entire afternoon trying to salvage my couch, hosing off the cushions in the driveway and letting them air dry.  I went out and bought a couch cover which ended up not really fitting right, either.  Roommate apologized profusely, but I told him Chunk wasn’t allowed over again until he apologized and gave me $100 for the cleaning I had to do and the couch cover I had to buy.  Roommate came home a couple of weeks later with $40 from Chunk.  I got the remaining $60 six months later when he unexpectedly showed up at the house.  Luckily for him, enough time had passed that my anger had subsided, thanks in part to my brand new couch.

In summary, when searching for a roommate it is important to be thorough when screening potential candidates.  Interview them, ask tough questions, and make sure you have a little something in common.  You can even do a background check if you deem it necessary.  Just make sure they don’t have a friend named Chunk.

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Filed under Animals, Food, Friends, Funny, How To, humor, Jobs, Life, Lists, People, Relationships

That’s Gonna Leave a Mark

I was skimming through the inter-tubes awhile back, which is a frequent routine – catching up on current events, checking out stories related to my favorite sports teams, looking for funny stuff, etc – when I came across one particular news story that made me laugh and grab my crotch at the same time…

Angry wife jailed after biting husband’s you-know-what
from the Orlando Sentinel – December 23, 2008


A 27-year-old Deltona woman told authorities she bit her husband’s penis because she didn’t want to have sex with him.

Charris Bowers was arrested Saturday by a Volusia County sheriff’s deputy, accused of misdemeanor battery. A judge set her free Sunday without requiring her to post bail.

Her husband, Delou Bowers, today would not comment.

According to a sheriff’s office report, the Bowerses had been to a bar Friday night. Delou Bowers told authorities that when they got home, his wife began to perform oral sex on him but then began to bite his penis.

He tried to stop her, he told a deputy, but she kept at it. He then began to punch her in the head and pushed her to the floor, and she let go, according to the arrest report.

Charris Bowers gave the officer two versions of what happened. She first said she was sitting on the couch when her husband walked over and put his penis in her mouth, according to the report.

“She then bit it to get him away from her,” the report said.

She later said her husband walked over with his penis exposed, and she bit it.

Either way, the deputy saw the injury, photographed it then arrested Mrs. Bowers.

—–

I feel sorry for both the victim, Mr. Bowers, and the cop.  No man should ever have his junk bitten, nor should any man have to see and/or photograph a chewed-up schlong.  As for Mrs. Bowers, I’d like to give her a piece of valuable knowledge that I obtained from McGruff, the Crime Dog:  take a bite out of crime, not the other way around.

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Filed under Animals, Funny, humor, Life, Love, Men, News, People, Relationships, Women

Bathroom Etiquette

I met some family for lunch about a week ago, and I had to use the bathroom before we left the restaurant.  The toilet trip got me thinking (what else do you do in the bathroom?), so I thought I’d share a few very basic rules that a man must follow when using a public bathroom:

1.  If there are less than two of any combination of toilets/urinals and all are taken, wait outside of the bathroom until someone comes out.

2.  Never speak to or look at your neighbor while relieving yourself at the urinal.  This is no time for small talk.

3.  If there is a bathroom attendant, wash the willy off of your hands even if you don’t have a dollar to give him.  I don’t want to indirectly touch your junk as I open the door to leave.

4.  Always courtesy flush.

5.  Check for toilet paper before sitting, not after.  It could cost you a pair of underwear.

6.  Don’t talk on your cell phone while in the stall.  That’s just weird.

7.  Lock your stall door.  Not everyone looks underneath for a pair of feet.

8.  Acknowledge and/or obey any and all signs posted, such as “out of order,” “wet floor,” or the sign I happened upon during my bathroom trip:

I feel really bad for whoever is in charge of emptying trash cans, but hey – rules are rules.

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Filed under Food, Funny, humor, Life, Lists

Something’s Fishy Here

It’s no secret that we Americans are the fattest and most impatient people on the face of the Earth, a deadly combination.  Everything we eat is pre-packaged, processed, frozen, or fast.  Nothing is fast enough for us, and everything is we do wastes time that could be spent doing something else that we think is important.  I almost don’t have time to write this blog because I’m having a Big Mac attack.

A few years ago, it was realized through the media that we have become a fast food nation and that far too many of our children are obese – we’re talking epidemic proportions here.  Super-sized, if you will.  Speaking of which, this was also the time period that the independent documentary “Supersize Me” was released.  It was because of this static that most of the fast food chains began releasing nutritional information and adding healthy (okay, healthy-er) food items to their menus.

Let’s not kid ourselves, this was only to save face while under pressure from the public and the media – we needed help to not be so fat (because we don’t have the willpower to stop eating something named Big & Tasty).  Consequently, McDonald’s adds an entire salad menu, yogurt, low fat ice cream; they also serve milk and orange juice, but not in a 32 oz. like the soft drinks.  Most of the other chains followed suit, offering an array of salads, deli-style sandwiches, and alternative drink options.  The static slowly decreased, and you don’t hear much these days about the obesity problem this country still has.

The truth is, people who like McDonald’s Double Cheeseburgers aren’t going to suddenly start ordering the Premium Asian Salad with Grilled Chicken.  I mean, come on – it doesn’t even come with fries.  I also suspect that a salad connoisseur isn’t going to ditch Crispers, Sweet Tomatoes, or Panera for a McSalad.

My favorite part of all of this are the new menu items that appear to be a healthier option, but aren’t.  While doing some birthday shopping for Girlfriend in the mall yesterday, I stumbled across one such item (I won’t go into how I ended up in the vicinity).  May I present to you Long John Silver’s new Ultimate Flatbreads!  I’m sure you’re at least aware of their staple item, the deep-fried fish fillet with extra crunchy things.  Now that I think of it, almost all of their items are deep-fried with extra crunchy things (except the cole slaw – yuck).  Now, with the creation of the new Ultimate Flatbreads, LJS now has something for everybody.

I’m sure you’ve seen those fresh-looking gyro sandwiches and pita bread sandwiches that are available at your healthier establishments and deli’s, right?  Wipe the drool from your mouth and picture this:  a round piece of flat pita bread, stuffed with lettuce, bacon pieces, melted cheese, and your choice of a deep-fried fish filet or several deep-fried shrimp (not sure about the extra crunchy things).  Can you believe it?  They managed to make their staple item look heatlhier while actually adding calories to it.  It’s like a fried fish taco.  Genius.

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Filed under Culture, Food, Funny, humor, Life, People, Restaurants

Hump Day

Wednesday is known as “hump day,” but it’s not to be taken for its literal meaning. Tell that to my dogs, Gizmo (Papillon) and Baby Bear (Border Collie-mix).

The best thing about animals is that they don’t talk much.

Music soothes the savage beast, doggy-style.

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Filed under Animals, Funny, humor, Life, Love, Nature, Relationships, Video

“The Only Good Bug Is a Dead Bug”

Have any of you seen the movie “Starship Troopers?” It’s a science fiction movie about mankind’s battle against these giant alien bugs; ironically enough, the goal of The Bugs is to exterminate us (“us” being human beings, in case you thought I was something else – you wouldn’t be the first).

Before I go any further, I must make a statement: I hate bugs.

Since moving into my new home, I’ve twice come across the dead carcass of a strange insect on my kitchen floor. Legs curled up into itself, much like a dead spider, it was difficult to tell what this bug was or what it looked like when it was alive. I figured that each bug had fallen victim to one of my five Pest-Eating Tailed-Sentinels. Even my 50 lb. Border Collie mix, Bear, loves a good cat-and-mouse with a fly. Still, I shudder to think what I might do should I look to my left and see one of these mystery creatures standing on my shoulder trying to decide which part of my face to attack first.

Last week, I had satellite TV installed at my house. Shortly afterwards, I purchased an antenna to install on my roof so that I could also view my local channels in High-Definition, something not available through satellite TV companies (yes, I’m a technology dork). I installed the antenna no problem, and I neatly ran the cable along different parts of the house in order to get to the bottom without it being very noticeable. After drilling a hole into the cement block at the base of the house near the living room, it was time to run the cable into the crawlspace (a.k.a The Dungeon) and then up through the living room floor and into the back of my cable box. One thing remained between me and endless nights of viewing entertainment: physically crawling into The Dungeon to complete the job.

Already wearing some old jeans and a t-shirt, I added the headlamp (a little flashlight attached to a headband) to my attire and was ready to go. I grabbed my drill and my camera, turning the video “on” on the camera. With Girlfriend out of town, I wanted there to be evidence of what befell me should I be found laying underneath my house, dead, in a puddle of my own blood and piss (yes, I watch too many horror movies).

I crawled through the first hole, a rectangle no more than three feet wide, I’m guessing. Underneath the master bathroom, and I began my crawl to the furthest opposite corner of the house: the living room area. Parts of The Dungeon were simple to traverse, with enough room to comfortably crawl as a baby would. However, because of the uneven grade of the ground, various wiring, piping, and A/C duct work, there were times that I found myself belly-to-the-ground crawling military style. The ground was damp and cool. I passed the master bedroom, another bathroom, and made it to the front bedroom without incident. I took a left and headed towards the underbelly of the living room. After moving a few feet, I was stopped dead in my tracks by this:

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Filed under Funny, How To, humor, Life, Movies, Nature, Personal

Time to Face the Music

Matt posted a survey about the music we as individuals listen to, what it says about each of us, and if we should even care (you can read it here). I would be put into the ‘Don’t Care’ category, but also in the sub-category of ‘Conscious Selector.’ If I had a co-worker in my car or a friend’s kids over for dinner, I most definitely would not put my iPod on shuffle in the background out of fear that “F#@k Her Gently” by Tenacious D would be the next track chosen. A simple solution to avoiding a potentially uncomfortable musical moment such as this is to take advantage of your iPod’s playlist feature (or other mp3 player – I’m really not a digital snob, I swear), or to simply turn on the radio, you know, if you still own a piece of that technology. However, just make sure it’s regular terrestrial radio (AM/FM) and not uncensored satellite radio, unless, of course, you’ve purposely selected a safe channel like Siriusly Sinatra (from Sirius Satellite – not a misspeling); I’ve never heard it, but something tells me that Road Dog Trucker Radio might not be a good choice (yes, that’s an actual channel). Okay, on to the questions…

If someone new were in your car, what song on your player would you be quickest to skip out of embarrassment: You might think that the previously mentioned Tenacious D song would be my answer here, but it’s not. While potentially offensive or inappropriate in certain situations, it is a well-written, beautiful acoustic medley that might go unnoticed playing in the background. I say this because I have another song that could not sneak by one’s ears inconspicuously, and that song is “A Medium Pace” by Adam Sandler (read the lyrics at your own risk).

What song or songs is/are most “atypical” on your player? The answer would have to be “Stairway to Heaven.” I’m a rock guy, so that doesn’t really make any sense, does it? Well, you didn’t let me finish. “Stairway to Heaven” by Rockabye Baby!. You know those various music boxes and toys for toddlers that play goodnight songs to send them off to sleep peacefully? Well, it’s “Stairway to Heaven,” like that. Be right back, I need to delete something.

What song(s) on your player turns you on? I don’t think a song has ever turned me on in the way this question is asking. Being a musician, I get turned on by certain songs in a different way. I can’t even narrow that one down to songs, but some bands that have “turned me on” with mulitple compositions are Coldplay, Metallica, Alice in Chains, Frank Sinatra, Nirvana – I’ll stop there, I could go on for quite awhile. Incidentally, listing Coldplay here doesn’t make me gay since I listed Metallica right after that – they cancel each other out.

If you wanted to get a member of the opposite sex in the mood, what song would you program to come on when they are in the car? “Tootsie Roll” by the 69 Boyz. Wait, sorry, that’s my answer to “Name a song that shares its name with a chewy brown candy.” I’d have to say “Dig” by Incubus.

What is the longest song on your player? Clocking in at 13:46, the longest song on my iPod is the classic “Do You Feel Like I Do?” by Peter Frampton. It’s a good one to listen to if you’re going somewhere that is 13:56 away from your house.

What do you think is the silliest song on your player? “Trapped In The Drive-Thru” by Weird Al Yankovich. This might be the funniest song he ever recorded.

What did you most recently add to your player? I added 74 songs by the Christian parody band ApologetiX, with the intention of burning CD’s for my very religious dad and sister. I found them by accident, but it’s pretty funny if you’re into that kind of thing. Picture Weird Al doing what he does now, except he’d also be a preacher. Robert Palmer’s “Simply Irresistible” was remade into “Sin Can Be Resistible.” You get the idea.

What did you most recently delete? “Girl You Know It’s True” by Milli Vanilli. I don’t need to explain why I deleted it, but maybe I should explain how it ended up on my iPod in the first place. Well, several months ago Girlfriend and I were trying to think of all of the one-hit wonders we could think of and were proceeding to download them and… nevermind. There is NO good excuse for having Milli Vanilli on your mp3 player, unless you are one of the two guys seen lip-syncing in the music video.

What is your favorite song on your player that is from a movie? “If I Didn’t Care” by The Ink Spots, from the movie The Shawshank Redemption (also one of my all-time favorite movies). I absolutely love 40’s big band/swing music, and this is a fairly new passion. A close second is “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” by Nancy Sinatra, from the movie Kill Bill: Volume I.

Is there a song on your player that is only there for someone else’s benefit? Most definitely. “Pocket Full Of Sunshine” by Natasha Bedingfield. This annoying song was Girlfriend’s doing… with it’s nice acoustic guitar, it’s infectious chorus, catchy melody… I’m going to shut up now.

What song or artist do you find yourself skipping most frequently and therefore should probably delete? John Mellencamp. Or is it John Cougar Mellencamp? The Mellencamp…whatever. I only have a few of his classics that I appreciate, but I have always skipped them more often than I’d let them play. Now that I’ve moved back to Indiana (his home state), all I need to do is turn on the damn radio if I ever feel like hearing the story of ol’ Jack & Diane… sheesh.

Without cheating, start your player and list the first 10 songs that come up in random play.
(Oh crap, the first random song just came up. Maybe I need to change an answer.)

“Push It” – Salt-N-Pepa (yikes)

“Death Blooms” – Mudvayne (heaviness)

“A Little Bitter” – Alice In Chains (another great soundtrack song, by the late Layne Stayley and co.)

“Gasoline” – Audioslave (I’ve been a Chris Cornell fan since Soundgarden – check out his acoustic version of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”

“God Put A Smile Upon Your Face” – Coldplay (one of their best)

“You Always Hurt The Ones You Love” – The Mills Brothers (a great Big Band-era group)

“Drive-Thru” – Tenacious D (this isn’t actually a song, I need to delete this)

“Welcome My Son” – Adam Sandler (weird that he came up again in this blog – I currently have 2,301 songs on my Ipod, and just three belong to Adam Sandler)

“I Will Survive” – Cake (this would be bad if it were Gloria Gaynor, which I don’t have)

“Christian Woman” – Type O Negative (funny dudes. no, really)

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Filed under Funny, humor, Life, Lists, Movies, Music, Personal

Topic Tunder

I was laying on the couch last week watching the news (I won’t say the channel, but it was a certain Cable News Network), and a story came on about the “controversy” surrounding the then-impending release of Ben Stiller’s new movie, a rated-R comedy entitled “Tropic Thunder.” Dozens of people were protesting the film’s “liberal use of the ‘R’ word” (‘R’ word = retard) during one particular scene of the movie. Here are a few snippets of things seen and overheard at the protest:

“Tropic Blunder” – t-shirts worn by protesters featuring one of the few words that rhyme with ‘thunder’

“When I heard about it, I felt really hurt inside.” “We have feelings. We don’t like the word retard. We are people. We’re just like any other people out there. We want to be ourselves and not be discriminated against.” – Dustin Plunkett, Special Olympics global messenger

“I just think Ben Stiller and the people involved in this movie just didn’t think it was going to be offensive.” – Andrew J. Imparato, president of the American Association of People with Disabilities

“If you want to pick on people, as the old playground saying goes, pick on people your own size. This population struggles too much with the basics to have to struggle against Hollywood. We’re sending a message that this hate speech is no longer acceptable.” – Timothy Shriver, chairman of the Special Olympics

“Using the ‘R’ word brings our people down,” – an anonymous protester interviewed by the news reporter

Call me insensitive, but this all seems a little ridiculous to me. It’s a comedy – rated R, no less. My first comment is, if you don’t enjoy this type of off-color humor or are offended by the ‘R’ word, don’t go see it. If you’ve seen or read anything about the movie, you would know that the movie is making fun of actors and how seriously they take themselves. Yes, it’s edgy. Yes, they make fun of stereotypes. But did Ben Stiller and friends intend to hurt the community of the mentally disabled? No way. The use of the ‘R’ word was taken out of context, and that can’t be construed as discrimination against an entire community. I suggest that most of the people protesting have not seen the movie (and probably shouldn’t), and that this is merely political correctness gone too far.

I think I’m more surprised that people aren’t up in arms over Robert Downey Jr. playing a black man, but that’s another story entirely.

I’d like to think that I’m a good person, with good morals. There’s always room for improvement, but overall I think I’m a pretty good guy. I would never call a mentally disabled person retarded. My brother David is a retard though, and I’ve told him that countless times. I think Grey’s Anatomy is retarded, and I won’t watch it no matter how many times Girlfriend asks me to. John Edwards is retarded for continuing to lie – you got busted John, you might as well come completely clean.

My point is (and I could be naive in my thinking) that the use of the word “retard” is generic, and I don’t think I’m alone in that attitude. I would call my brother a retard much like I would call him a dork or a dweeb. What I’m essentially doing is calling him dumb, not mentally disabled, and in doing so I am not referring TO the mentally disabled. On the other hand, I can respect someone who comes from a different place and isn’t comfortable with the word (someone like my uncle who works with children). Ben Stiller has every right to make a movie like this, the protesters have every right to protest it, and I have every right to write this retarded blog.

I’m not here because the movie upset me or because I liked it (I haven’t even seen it yet actually, but I plan to). I’m not trying to get you to agree with my opinion one way or the other. I’m here today because I need to apologize.

There was one guy in particular who was protesting during that news piece and told the reporter, “Using the ‘R’ word brings our people down.” He opened my eyes – I had no idea that every time I’ve called my brother a retard that I was actually hurting this guy on TV, and others like him, whom I have never met. Using that logic, I decided to take this opportunity to apologize to a few others that I may have unknowingly hurt:

Albert Einstein – Einstein was a physicist best known for his Theory of Relativity. He won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921, and Time Magazine named him “Person of the Century” in 1999. So I’m not really sure why, if my aforementioned brother made a bad decision or did something stupid, I would say “way to go, Einstein.” I can assure you, Mr. Einstein, that I never called him by your name in a complimentary manner, and for this I apologize.

Girlfriend – This is a fairly new one, but I might as well sneak it in here. Girlfriend and I play tennis with some of my relatives every week, and we’re not very good (but we are less bad every week). Girlfriend likes to swing and miss at easy ones. It’s happened enough that I have noticed it, and when anyone else with whom we’re playing does the same thing, I proclaim that they “Girlfriend’d it.” Sorry, Girlfriend. (On a side note, I hit the ball into the net, a lot. Long story short, I’m also owed an apology.)

Prostitutes – I’ve had many different relationships over the years. Some have ended badly, others not so badly. I have to admit that a few ex-girlfriends became known to my guy friends in conversation as “stupid whores” rather than their actual names. Most were deserved. What isn’t deserved is my careless use of the word “whore.” Just because a couple of ex-girlfriends put me through hell doesn’t mean I should do the same to prostitutes. I know you’re only trying to put yourself through college, you fell on bad times, or your boyfriend is a pimp and you have no choice. You don’t deserve the negative connotation attached to the slang I threw around like a frisbee. I’m really sorry, prostitutes.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Today, if someone said something to me that was a painfully obvious fact, such as “it’s hot outside” or “you’re awesome,” I may respond with “thanks, Captain Obvious.” When I was younger though, the response would have been “no shit, Sherlock.” Why? Who knows? Sherlock Holmes was a fictional detective known for using his intellectual prowess and deductive reasoning to solve difficult cases. Like Einstein, using Sherlock’s name as an insult in this manner didn’t make a whole lot of sense. That didn’t stop me from doing it over and over and over, though. For that, I offer my apologies to the creator of the great Sherlock Holmes. It’s quite obvious (no shit) that I was a jerk.

Homosexuals – I have nothing against homosexuals, nor am I afraid of them. So, why I would call my brother a fag when he would squat over my head and fart while I was laying on the floor trying to watch TV, I don’t know. I don’t think this is typical homosexual behavior, but you never know what goes on behind closed doors. Regardless, I owe you all an apology. So, from the bottom of my fabulously gay-friendly heart, I’m sorry.

Lead singers of bands – I was in a rock band for six years. It was definitely fun, but mostly it was hard work. It’s very difficult to find four people who get along, have things in common, agree artistically, and are willing to put in the work required. In my band, the lead singer was a lazy retard jerk who’s antics ultimately led to our band’s demise. Any time he missed a practice, canceled a show, or was late showing up so he didn’t have to help load equipment, we told everyone that he had “Lead Singer Syndrome.” Axl Rose had it – it does exist. However, it should be called something else, like “Scott Stapp Syndrome.” The hard working lead singers of the world far outweigh the lazy ones. So, to all of the musicians out there busting their asses, I sincerely apologize. To the rest of you, you should get your S.S.S. checked out.

My brother David – I’m really sorry. You’ve obviously taken a beating.

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Listen, I Heard You

Many times when I’m out in public, I’ll give or receive either a few friendly words or a hello gesture, whether it be a nod or a smile, to a complete stranger. If I’m on the receiving end of such an occurrence, often times it’s because I’ve already made eye contact and offered a grin; I can’t help it. Not only am I an incredibly friendly (and extremely modest) person, but I’ve been trained to be friendly as well, thanks to the many customer-oriented jobs I’ve held throughout my life. “Thank you, pull around!”

drivethru

I can tell you with certainty that if you’ve ever asked a stock boy at a grocery store “Are you working hard, or hardly working?”, you’re not nearly as original and funny as you think you are. In fact, chances are good that he’s probably been asked that question over a hundred times and he’s probably sick of having to laugh and pretend that he finds it amusing, especially if he’s having a bad day and is working very hard. Same goes for the person who tells him “Don’t work too hard!” He knows that you don’t really care how hard he works, and actually, you secretly figure that if he was working harder, maybe the Preparation H you planned this particular shopping trip around would be in stock so you wouldn’t have to make another stop on the way home. Besides, people in general will continue to work at the same pace no matter what wannabe-witty saying you “come up” with.

The worst thing that happens is when you ask someone a generic question, out of a desire to simply be friendly and acknowledge his or her presence, and you get an answer that has nothing to do with the question you’ve just asked. People who do this are total dorks, and I encountered one such dork in a grocery story this afternoon. The gentleman worked there, I figured out that much by the name tag stuck to his shirt, a name tag that had become clearer with each step we took toward each other. I noticed him noticing me noticing his name tag, so I offered a mere “How’s it going?” as I nodded my head in his direction. As we passed each other, he responded with “Not much.”

Not much? What the hell does that mean? It’s not going much? There’s not much going? Or, did he size me up before I had neared him, ultimately deciding that I was a What-have-you-been-up-to type of asker? I’m sure that’s what happened – when I opened my mouth and began speaking, all he probably heard was Charlie Brown’s teacher. Of course, once I was five strides beyond this exchange, I muttered “what a dork” under my breath. Then I laughed.

Why was it funny? I’m not sure, but I snickered about it a couple more times as it replayed through my mind. Maybe I’m too easily amused. Whatever the case, I finished up what I was doing and continued on with my day. Later in the afternoon, I shared a pleasant conversation with a liquor store manager during one of my last stops. He explained that he couldn’t wait to go fishing this coming weekend, and I promptly retorted with information regarding my upcoming family vacation that is taking place next week, a week which I am impatiently looking forward to.

“OK Luke, have a good vacation,” he encouraged as I gathered my belongings and prepared to leave.

“Thanks, you too.”

Doh.

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Dream Home

I’m not the type of person who has vivid, memorable dreams very often. If I suddenly wake up kind of scared (and relieved), I know that I probably had a bad dream – I just don’t remember what it was, and thankfully so. Other times I’ll wake up disappointed, realizing that whatever had just been happening was only a dream – I’ll usually spend my first ten waking minutes racking my brain, trying to remember what the hell it was I had been dreaming about, to no avail. I can count on one hand the times I’ve cried over the last ten years, and on two hands the times I’ve had memorable dreams. The vivid dreams tend to happen for me when something is weighing heavily upon my mind or when I’m going through a big change. However, I’d like to believe that, on two different occasions, a message was being sent to me through my dreams from a much greater place.

My siblings and I had a turbulent upbringing; our mother left our family at a very young age, we moved around frequently, and we were collateral damage of several divorces. Through it all, my father always tried to do the best by us while playing the cards he had been dealt (or sometimes, the cards he dealt himself). I commend him for the job he did, raising four children on his own while struggling at times to simply make ends meet. In my extended family, my grandparents were my rock, as they were for all of my cousins, aunts, gpasand uncles. They loved all of their grandchildren (seventeen in all) as if each were their own offspring (they had seven of their own). They would do anything for any of us, within reason of course. I was always welcome in their home, and was made to feel as if I were home when I was there. Through the years, their house would become the one place that truly felt like home to me; as a child, visiting Grandma and Grandpa was an escape from real life; as a teenager, their house literally became home to me when they took me in while I finished high school. My father had decided to move back to Florida before my senior year – I didn’t want to change schools again, and I didn’t have to, thanks to my grandparents. I moved out of their house after high school, but I visited often, even if it was just to watch a ballgame on TV or to have some of Grandma’s leftovers. Late in 1998, I moved to Florida and was reunited with my immediate family.

My grandma was the housewife, the homemaker, the caretaker – an amazing woman in every sense of the word. She was always there if you needed a hug or a talking-to, and both were invaluable. She filled my mother’s shoes beyond capacity, probably without even realizing it and most definitely without trying to do so. I love, respect, and miss her immensely. I saw her a few times after moving to Florida, but not nearly as often as I would have liked. Towards the end of her life, she was on quite a few medications for her various ailments. I remember receiving a phone call from my older sister Cheryl, informing me that Grandma had become gravely ill. I had a tough decision to make: I could leave work immediately to visit her in the hospital (which would have meant, if something happened, I’d have to miss the funeral because I wouldn’t be able to take two weeks off of work), or wait it out, hope for the best, and be able to attend the funeral should she take another turn for the worse. My aunt Melanie convinced me to stay home – I wouldn’t want to see Grandma in that condition, she said. I took Melanie’s advice, and Grandma passed away shortly thereafter. That was January of 2004, and was my first experience with death. It was very difficult for me. I hadn’t been up to visit for a couple of years prior to her death, and consequently, didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. I cried – boy, did I cry – basically from the moment I arrived in town for the funeral until I was on the road back to Florida. And she deserved every single one of my tears.

I tossed and turned for the next several weeks, simply unable to get a full-night’s sleep. I was riddled with guilt for not making time to visit my grandmother those last couple of years. One night, I had a rare and realistic dream. I was in my car, and I pulled into Grandma and Grandpa’s long driveway. Upon reaching the garage, I shut the car off and got out. I made my way to the back door, as I had done a hundred times before. As I knocked on the door, I peeked through the window, which was partially blocked by curtains. As I looked past the kitchen, I could see Grandpa sitting in his chair, but beginning to stir upon hearing the disturbance. Before he could get up, my view was cut off by my grandma’s face, who had already been in the kitchen doing housework. She opened the door and greeted me with a hug and the familiar “Hi Luke!” that I had been accustomed to, and then ushered me in and offered me a chair. That was followed by a “Hey Jumbo!” from Grandpa in the living room – “Jumbo” is a nickname we (the grandchildren) and Grandpa had called each other through the years. The comfortable smell of their house filled my nostrils. “Would you like something to eat?” she asked. I said yes, of course, and she apologized as she pulled out the rectangular, yellow, ceramic container with a glass lid from the refrigerator – “All I have is this leftover meatloaf.” She had no reason to be sorry, though, as her leftovers were better than anything I could get anywhere else. She popped it in the microwave, came over to me and put her arm around me, and said “It’s OK.” I woke up, and felt a wave of relief pour over me. I slept twelve hours the following night.

One thing that stood out from my visit for Grandma’s funeral was my grandfather; he was what he had always been to everyone in our family – an impenetrable support beam. I remember standing near my grandma’s coffin during the wake, uncontrollably quivering, and Grandpa came over and put his arm around me. With a smile, he reminded me of how proud they both were of me, and how much she loved me. His lifelong companion was gone and yet, there he was, providing his family with exactly what they needed at that moment – strength, compassion, support, and love. It’s his incredible strength that made him the man he was, that allowed him to survive being a P.O.W. in WWII, and that enabled him to create the amazing family that I am proudly a part of.

A couple of years later, I had the opportunity to visit Grandpa while on my way to a week-long vacation in St. Louis. I stayed a weekend at his house, sleeping in what had been Grandma’s room. We talked quite a bit,me and grandpa catching up on each other’s lives while also reminiscing a little bit about Grandma. Sunday morning, the day of my departure, my grandpa and I went to church together. Even though his church was just a hop, skip, and a jump away, he didn’t always attend mass due to his deteriorating physical condition. He was still as sharp as a tack, but arthritis and a couple of knee-replacement surgeries (among other things) had slowed him considerably. So, this was a special occasion for both of us. After mass, we drove to the cemetery to pay Grandma a visit. Grandpa stayed by the road, because the hill leading to her grave was too steep a trip for him to make. I stood at the foot of her resting place and read a little something that I had prepared for her the night before. Once finished, I lit the paper from which I had been reading on fire, and I held it above her until it was gone. Later that day at the house, it was time to say goodbye. Grandpa and I shared a long, emotional hug, and he once again reminded me how proud he was of me. Without speaking of it, we both knew that this was probably the last time we would ever see each other, and treated it as such.

Grandpa had a stroke towards the end of August last year, the last in a long line of health-related issues and ailments. He had just previously agreed to finally leave his home and move into a nursing home after trying to remain independent to some degree. All of my aunts and uncles who weren’t still living in Indiana made their way there to be by his side, including my dad. This time, my grandfather was terminal and he was unconscious for the most part, but there had been signs that maybe he could hear what was going on around him. Knowing I wouldn’t be able to get there until the funeral, I sent my dad the following email:

“I’m trying to figure out when I can come up… not easy, you know how busy I’ve been lately. I talked to Annie (my sister) though, and I’ve also talked to Matt and to Cheryl. I got your message about the checks…thanks. It’s hard to care about something like that right now, but you know we all appreciate it.

So… I know that you can’t really tell if Grandpa is awake or not, or if he can hear what you’re saying. Regardless of that, if you didn’t mind, I was hoping you could somehow read this to him? Thanks dad.

———-

Dear Grandpa,

Hey Jumbo! I’m going to come up there, but I’m not sure when that will be, so I thought I would write. I miss you!! But of course, you know that, just like I know you miss me, too. It’s that unspoken bond you’ve always shared with me, the same bond you share with everyone in our incredible family. That’s one of the things that was always so great about you, and about Grandma, too… you made every one of your kids and grandkids feel like they were your favorite. Well, you know what? You’re my favorite, too!!

I have so many great memories with you and Grandma both. Remember when you wanted to buy a new car, but you just had surgery on your neck? I had to load you and Grandma into my tiny Camaro, and I even had to remove the t-tops because the halo-thing attached to your head was too tall. I remember Grandma saying, “It feels like I’m sitting on the ground!” But she swore she was comfortable, she just didn’t like the wind messing up her hair. Then I test drove the cars for you while you sat in the backseats, and I told you what I thought…it was hilarious. When we finally decided on the Mercury, I remember you writing a check for the full amount, and with a smirk and a gleam in your eye, you said, “Well Luke, there goes your inheritance!” I had such a good time that day.

I’d like you to know that I’m doing well, and that I think you’d be proud of the man I’ve become. I have no problem telling you in the presence of my dad…I owe a lot of who I am to you. Just like Grandma was like a mother to me, you were always like a father to me. How could I have possibly have gone wrong with TWO dad’s as great as the two I have? You instilled a great sense of responsibility in me, and I’m eternally thankful for that. You are truly a grand father.

Well, I hope that when you are ready to leave us, that your transition is peaceful and painless. I’m sure Grandma is excited about seeing you again! I love her and miss her, let her know that for me when you do decide to make your way up there. I love you too, Grandpa…very, very much!!

Love always,
Luke”

My dad did read it to him, and he thinks that Grandpa heard it. My grandfather passed away two days later, on August 31st, 2007. I made it back to town for the wake and funeral, and I held myself together rather well, for the most part; all I could think about was how strong and supportive Grandpa was to everyone when Grandma passed away. I tried to emulate him, and be that during his passing to anyone in the family who might need it. I think he would have wanted it that way, and it made me feel good to draw that kind of courage from his memory.

In addition to a nice inheritance that he worked his entire life to attain, my grandfather left his house to my aunts and uncles. Grandpa had bought the house in 1954 and lived there until last year. This house was the site of countless holiday and family gatherings. It also played host to many backyard whiffle ball games and driveway basketball games, and many of us in the family had become adults while living in this house. To me, it was a symbol of the foundation and strength that my grandparents were to my family. The time had come to decide what to do with the house; there wasn’t anyone living there, and the upkeep had become a strain on everyone involved, especially my aunt Melanie.

During this time, I had been unhappily continuing to live in Florida. There had been talk between Girlfriend and I about moving away somewhere – at least for me, the cliché had proven true: Florida was a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there. At the same time that our “moving” talks had become more serious in nature, the decision had been made by my family to put “Grandpa’s house” on the market. My mind wrestled with the possibility of moving back home, and whether or not I was prepared to make such a decision. Suddenly, another dream.

I was in the neighbor’s back yard; the house next door that was still referred to as “Jason’s house,” a childhood neighbor/friend, even though he and his family no longer lived there. I was facing Grandpa’s house and driveway. I was obviously participating in a game of whiffle ball, as I was facing the area in the driveway that had always been designated “home plate;” I looked down and saw the ball in my hand… I was pitching. Folding lawn chairs were at each of the bases, which were used as substitutes for actual human beings; you could throw at a chair and get a force out if you were lucky enough to hit it. Home plate was a seat cushion, with a tri-folding beach chair standing up on its side just behind the cushion, serving as a catcher. There was a bit of a drop-off from the edge of the driveway to the grass of Jason’s yard, so you had to be careful not to trip when running down to first base. Standing at home plate, waiting for me to throw a pitch, was Grandpa. He had on plaid golf shorts, socks, and penny loafers, along with a collared shirt and golf hat. He was older, but not as old as he was when I had last seen him alive. I asked him what he thought he was doing out here. He grinned and said, “Just throw me a pitch.” I obediently did as I was told, and he hit a line drive to the part of the yard that was left field. He began to slowly jog toward first. I ran towards him and yelled for him to watch out, as he was nearing the drop-off at the edge of the driveway. I knew that his knees probably wouldn’t be able to take it, and he definitely wouldn’t be able to withstand a fall. His step from the driveway to the grass became slow motion, and as his foot touched down and he continued on unscathed, he looked at me, still smiling, and said, “I never felt better in my entire life than I do right now.” He stopped at the lawn chair that was first base. There was a pause, then he suddenly asked me, “What are you waiting for, Jumbo?” and somehow, I knew this question had nothing to do with whiffle ball. I woke up immediately afterward.

Are dreams conjured up only from our own subconscious thoughts? Or, is it possible that outside forces, higher forces that we don’t have the awareness to even begin to understand, have the ability to influence what we see and hear while we are sleeping? Who knows? The human mind is an amazing thing, but I suppose anything is possible. I know what I want to believe, and I can tell you this much: today, Girlfriend and I closed on the loan for “Grandpa’s house,” a day that would have been Grandpa’s 84th birthday.

Happy birthday, Grandpa.

grandpa

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